The use of anxiety drugs and sleep medications are on the rise amid the coronavirus pandemic. Healthcare professionals consider this trend worrisome and warn about the possibility of long-term addiction and abuse of these drugs.

"Many physicians have a low threshold for prescribing them. It’s very problematic. Many people do develop a dependency on these medications," Bruce J. Schwartz, deputy chair and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Montefiore Medical Center in New York told The Wall Street Journal.

Social isolation, health concerns, and the stress about losing jobs are taking a toll on people’s mental health.

Experts believe that the recent spike in the consumption of anxiety medication might be due to the fact that these traditional anxiety medications have the advantage of being quick-acting.

Key findings from recent surveys conducted by the American Psychiatric Association:

  • For over one-third of Americans, the pandemic is having a serious impact on their mental well-being
  • 46% of parents with children under 18 reported their pandemic-related stress levels as 8 to 10 on a 10-point scale

Also, the nation’s leading mental health official Elinore McCance-Katz opined that the increase in the number of fatal drug overdoses, suicides, and cases of domestic violence will be deep, broad, and lasting during the COVID-19 crisis.

IQVIA’s health research found that prescriptions for anxiety drugs spiked 10.2% in March 2020 to 9.7 million, compared with 8.8 million during last year, the Wall street journal reported. Antidepressants were also reported to be prescribed higher than what it was last year.

Psychiatrists employed with Ginger- a company that offers employers with telemedicine-based health services for their workers reported an 86% increase in prescriptions for psychotic drugs, especially antidepressants in March and April compared to the previous months, reported New York Post.

“Clearly people are taking more substances to control their anxiety. We know that alcohol usage is up, marijuana usage is up. But I'm trying to tell patients to try a variety of other things to see if they can get their anxiety in control before taking a pill for it," Ann Rosen Spector, a psychologist based in Philadelphia told MedicalXpress.

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